Atlanta Falcons (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS, 2-3 O/U) vs. New England Patriots (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS, 4-2 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, October 22, 2017, at 8:30 p.m. EST
The Line: New England Patriots -3.5. Total: 54.5.
It will be a rematch of Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots host the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night. New England is back at home following a pair of road wins over the Buccaneers and Jets. The Falcons, on the other hand, are coming off consecutive setbacks at the hands of Buffalo and Miami.
Super Bowl hangover
As everyone remembers, Atlanta led the Patriots 28-3 in the Super Bowl this February only to collapse in the second half and lose in overtime. The Falcons insisted there would be no hangover and they started this season 3-0, but it was an unspectacular 3-0 and now it is an even less spectacular 3-2. Atlanta survived Chicago after the Bears dropped a touchdown pass in the final seconds and escaped Detroit when a Lions’ touchdown on the final play of the game got overturned. The ball has not bounced the Falcons’ way of late, as they are coming off consecutive home losses to other AFC East competition in the Bills and Dolphins.
This is a franchise that knows a thing or two about blown leads, and they squandered another one against Miami last weekend. Atlanta took a 17-0 lead into halftime only to get shut out over the final 30 minutes and lose to the Dolphins 20-17. Matt Ryan was picked off once (on his team’s last drive of the contest) and the Falcons again featured a very imbalanced offensive attack with 35 pass attempts and 19 rushes. Ryan has thrown six interceptions through six games in 2017 after being victimized a grand total of seven times all of last year.
Not yet scary
Not too much unlike the Falcons, the Patriots have showcased less than their best football in the early stages of the 2017 campaign. They are a decent 4-2 with home losses to Kansas City and Carolina to go along with a quartet of unimpressive wins–including three by one possession and one (last week’s 24-17 victory over the Jets) aided by a shocking replay decision that took away an apparent New York touchdown in the fourth quarter. New England is once again saddled with a porous defense that ranks dead last in the NFL with room to spare (440.7 yards per game; no other club is allowing more than 410.0). On the bright side, however, Tom Brady–as usual–is playing like an MVP candidate. The 40-year-old has tossed 13 scoring strikes while being picked off only twice and he has thrown for 1,959 yards while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. He has a healthy Rob Gronkowski at his disposal and the star tight end is second on the team in receptions (26), yards (401), and touchdowns (four).
“We haven’t played our best yet and we’re ready to come out and play a full four quarters, 60-minute game of Patriot football,” running back James White commented. “It’ll be scary to see once we do that.”
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games following a loss
- 0-4 ATS in their last four October games
- 0-5 ATS in their last five games against New England
The New England Patriots are:
- 18-7 ATS in their last 25 overall
- 26-12-2 ATS in their last 40 home games
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine games against teams with winning records
The Falcons are a stellar third in total defense, but they are a more mediocre 12th against the pass. Brady shredded them in the second half and overtime during the Super Bowl and there is no reason to think he will be unable to do so again. Atlanta cannot be playing with confidence, either, having lost to much worse AFC East opposition at home. Atlanta is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 following a loss and 0-4 ATS in its last four in October. The Patriots are 18-7 ATS in their last 25 overall, 26-12-2 ATS in their last 40 at home, 7-2 ATS in their last nine against winning opponents, 12-3-2 ATS in their last 17 at home against opponents with winning road records, and 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams. Count on those trends continuing.
Pick: New England Patriots -3.5
Combine the Patriots’ awful defense with their outstanding offense and another shootout between these two clubs can be expected. Evidence of how many weapons Brady has on his offense is clear: in the three aforementioned categories in which Gronkowski ranks second on the team (catches, yards, and touchdowns), he trails three different teammates. White leads in catches, Brandin Cooks leads in yards, and Chris Hogan leads in touchdowns. The over is 18-7-1 in the Falcons’ last 26 overall, 8-1 in their last nine against winning opponents, 14-2 in their last 16 on fieldturf, and 8-2 in their last 10 following an ATS loss. It is also 8-2 in the Patriots’ last 10 overall, 49-23 in their last 72 at home, 8-3 in their last 11 against winning opponents, and 6-1 in their last seven following a win. Additionally, the over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to go over the total.